Have you ever thought about where your clothes come from or how fabrics are made? Would you ever consider wearing something made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing net fibres retrieved from the ocean? What if it came in the form of a fun, sexy, colorful bikini?

In a world of fast fashion and an ever growing pollution problem, companies who are doing their part to reuse, recycle and repurpose waste are worthy of our attention. Introducing OceanZen. A bikini brand whose heart lies in the protection and conservation of the oceans and all its creatures.

We are doing our part in an innovative and creative way by supporting the removal of discarded waste in our oceans and recreating it into the softest, highest quality lycra swimwear.

OceanZen - The bikini brand you NEED to know about. - Steph Gabriel - Founder of OceanZen - thechicidentity.com
Steph Gabriel – Founder of OceanZen

Meet Steph – Chief Mermaid and founder of OceanZen. Steph took some time out of running her growing empire to share some amazing insights into her brand.

THE INSPIRATION.

When I left Australia I was 20, no idea where to go, what to do, who I was, what I wanted. All I knew was that I had this urge to go. So I did. I packed up and left. I was travelling the world for about 3 years, frolicking on islands and wandering across countries and I landed myself a job in the Caribbean where I stayed for a year. This job was what has lead me to where I am today. I was working with wild stingrays on a snorkel guide sailing boat.

My role was to swim down, lure the stingrays up with squid, hold them and allow the tourists to touch their wings. It was the most surreal and craziest experience and I learned alot about the marine world from being in it for 8 hours a day. That is what sparked this passion and protection for marine conservation. I came home about a year after finishing up on the island, enrolled myself into uni and completed a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. From this point I knew that this field was my future in someway or another, but my passion wasn’t research and being indoors bores me. The best place to learn about the marine world is to be in it.

OceanZen - The bikini brand you NEED to know about. Founder Steph Gabriel snorkeling with a seal - Thechicidentity.com
Founder Steph Gabriel snorkeling with a seal

So I started to brain storm ways I could help in my own way. I had discovered this fabric made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets and it completely blew my mind! Discarded waste is one of the many huge problems that face our oceans and from this point the idea of OceanZen only felt natural. I ultimately wanted to combine both of my passions, marine conservation and swimwear together in my own unique way.

OceanZen - The bikini brand you NEED to know about. Founder Steph Gabriel snorkelling with a seal - Thechicidentity.comTHE FABRIC.

The fabric is really amazing and completely mind blowing that it is made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets from the ocean. It is collected in the oceans around the USA, taken to a processing factory to be cleaned and shredded, then re-created into a yarn. That yarn is then shipped to Italy to be turned into a high quality Italian lycra. This is such a huge goal for me and OceanZen. This fabric has been something I have wanted for two years, it feels like the best Christmas present :). It is super soft and just awesome that it is sustainable.

OceanZen - The bikini brand you NEED to know about. - OceanZen Bikini girls modelling bikinis made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing net fibres. Thechicidentity.com
THE CHALLENGES OF HAVING A SUSTAINABLE BRAND.

There were constant hurdles, and still is today. I feel like most people don’t know where to start and that’s exactly where I was at, especially in fashion. Where to manufacture, how, all of the costs involved. It is such a time consuming process especially during the sampling stage. Manufacturing is still one of my biggest challenges today. The cost is definitely a challenge and is with most, if not all, sustainable businesses. The manufacturing process for sustainable techniques is more detailed and expensive compared to a non-sustainable product, mostly because the sustainable product is made for the best interest of the environment and people involved rather than the cheaper, sweat shop, industrial chemical way. Starting a business and keeping it afloat whilst having the best interest of the environment involved is a challenge, and not all consumers desire sustainable products. So there is a select niche of people who will genuinely appreciate the sustainable product.

OceanZen - The bikini brand you NEED to know about. - OceanZen Bikini girls modelling bikinis made from recycled plastic bottles and fishing net fibres. Thechicidentity.com

There is a conscious shift happening and people are starting to support small businesses, buy local produce and take note of where the money is really going. OceanZen is really lucky to have a community of ocean mermaids, conservationists and bikini lovers to support the brand and two years ago I really wanted to make a stand in some way for marine conservation and that passion pushed me to my creative reach to come up with an idea. If you truly believe in something and knock out all of the doubtful thoughts your passion will be the only thing you want to put all of your energy into. And the biggest hurdle of all is taking that step to turn your passion into a reality.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CHIEF MERMAID STEPH.

OceanZen is work and play, it’s not just about being in the office working and packing orders, but also being outside in the ocean. I try to get down to the beach for a swim or surf every day and in winter it’s the best time to go snorkeling and free diving because the water clarity is amazing! You can also hear the whales singing during their migration in winter 🙂  But at OceanZen HQ we are packing orders, doing lots of admin stuff, interviews, social media, organising photo shoots and doing photoshoots, booking ocean related holidays to exotic destinations and most importantly just having fun.

If you want to find out more about this incredible brand and shop their super fun and cheeky bikinis, head to the website by clicking the logo below and keep updated with all the latest from OceanZen by following them on Instagram @oceanzen. Remember, you can help the environment in your own way when shopping by supporting brands who are making conscious, sustainable decisions for our futures.

This bikini brand is using materials made from plastics that are taken from the Oceans! Amazing!

OceanZen - The bikini brand you NEED to know about. OceanZen Logo - Thechicidentity.com

I would love to hear your comments, questions and feedback! xx